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As Construction Booms, So Do New Jobs

College students -- and their parents -- could be forgiven for not knowing about a major called "Construction Management." But construction -- roughly 5 percent of the nation's economy -- is booming. And insiders say the industry is decades behind similar fields in having enough highly educated and trained managers to run companies.

As a result, schools like the Wentworth Institute of Technology are putting new emphasis on the degree, touting a voracious job market and a median starting salary of $46,000. Graduates say that figure often ranges from $70,000 to $100,000 after five to 10 years.

After spending 30 years in the industry, Michael Holland now helps to run the American Council for Construction Education, which accredits the programs. He says part of the problem is a lack of knowledge, or enthusiasm, about construction management.

"People think that contractors are people that dig ditches and run around in pickup trucks with a shovel... the construction industry is a huge industry [that] doesn't get the respect it deserves," Holland says.

But that may soon change, as Holland says that there is clearly a need for more construction managers. According to a recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers, some $1.5 trillion -- for buildings, transit, water and other infrastructure -- is needed over the next five years. He calls that job security.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996 and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.

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